Conversations in Grief Blog: Where Were You a Year Ago?
I remember where I was when I heard about the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center Tower on 9/11 (working on a school garage sale). I remember where I was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986 (in between classes at college chatting with the chaplain).
I remember where I was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit home for me on March 11, 2020. My mom was walking into our apartment for supper and she said she was no longer allowed to visit dad at his care facility. The staff informed her that they were locking down. Two days later, Rainbow Hospice Care alerted staff to begin working from home. By Monday, March 16, most of Rainbow staff (except for RNs) discovered that they were considered “non-essential” and banned from in-person visits. My husband, a teacher, was also home that Monday because schools had shut down, too.
It was a series of events beginning with my dad being locked down in his nursing home that kept gathering steam as this temporary shutdown (two weeks? A month?) kept being thrown down the road for longer and longer spans of time. Rainbow Hospice Care CEO Karen Lacke Carrig warned our staff during our all-staff calls that this pandemic was here to stay.
I didn’t want to believe it. I thought I couldn’t bear to believe it. I went to sleep heavy with despondency and woke up to discover that the despondency remained with me.
How ironic that this terrible darkness of COVID-19 happened just as spring was arriving. Days were warmer and lighter; daffodils and tulips could be spotted as we took our walks. Endless walks. Because there was, literally, nothing else to do. Either walk or binge-watch television.
The bright cutout hearts that graced windows signaling that we were in this together faded quicker than I ever would have imagined, replaced with hatred and ugly words and division. Masks or no masks. Conspiracy. The death of George Floyd. Rioting. A nasty political election. Division.
For me, the date will always be March 11th. I know the defining date will vary for each of us. As we consider that we are now honoring the one-year anniversary of COVID-19, my feelings vary from disbelief that a whole year has passed, to hope that this spring with vaccines in arms and numbers of cases and deaths dropping, will be better than the previous one. And I may be a little numb. Not thinking or feeling too much was a strategy for surviving, taking it one day at a time.
We have all lost much during COVID-19. Perhaps it was a loved one or loved ones, work, routines, celebrations, funerals, safety, community, income. Just as we honor the death of a loved one a year later by visiting their resting place or lighting a candle, it is important to honor what we have lost to the pandemic. Will you name what you have lost? Will you honor your grief?
Let’s hold each other up and recreate community as we grieve together:
I remember my mom telling me that my dad’s care facility was locked down on March 11, 2020. I have lost that physical connection to my dad. I have lost my belief that the world will keep on running as expected. I have lost relationships with people that I simply no longer see.
What do you remember about March 2020? When did the pandemic become real for you? What have you lost?